The Way Beyond (Heart of Colton) – ARC review

The Way Beyond
by Eliana West
Release Date:  September 13, 2021
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Book #3 in the Heart of Colton series
Number of pages:  271
Kindle
Source:  ARC from publisher
Contemporary Romance
Ages 15 and up
CW: racial violence, physical abuse

Jacob Winters has a secret: he’s come to Colton undercover as an FBI handler. He didn’t plan to stay, but the small town has charmed him with a sense of community he hasn’t felt in a long time. And his attraction to the beautiful Mae Colton complicates things even more. Jacob doesn’t do relationships—he won’t risk making memories he might regret.

Mae Colton loves her little town of Colton, Mississippi, and doesn’t want to leave. In fact, instead of moving on to bigger things—namely a political career in D.C.—like she’d planned, she wants to run for a second term as mayor of Colton. But not everyone in town supports this choice, including the commitment-phobic Jacob Winters.

Mae is ready to make their secret relationship official and go public, but that would break Jacob’s one rule. When a threat against Mae’s life forces him to admit the truth of his feelings, he has to race to save the woman he loves before it’s too late.

I really don’t know if I will be able to adequately express my displeasure in certain aspects of this book while expressing my great pleasure in the story. I’m really torn and frustrated when it comes to this story and this series as a whole.

Let’s start with the good. And there really is a whole lot of good. This is one of those stories that teaches you a whole lot while also being entertaining. It also never feels as though there is a message being crammed down your throat. Although, to be honest, there is a strong message. Actually, more than one. But the biggest issue in this story is racism, as has been the case throughout the series. The author does a wonderful job of really creating some teaching moments for her characters and audience alike.

Of course, a book dealing with social issues wouldn’t be enough to make it a good story. There is wonderful chemistry between Mae and Jacob. There is an unlikely new friendship Mae starts with someone (no spoilers!) as well as her already deep-rooted friendships she’s had for years. I really enjoyed being back in Colton and visiting with the residents of this town.

When I reviewed The Way Home, the second book of the series, I was so happy that the editing issues I had with the first story seemed to be resolved. Somehow, here they are back again. At first, it was minor things that I could try to ignore. Later in the book there were some very major issues with the timeline and when who was told what. It really took me out of the story in a big way and, quite frankly, ruined things for me. As with the first book, I can’t lay all the blame with the author. Where are the editors? How are these issues not caught and corrected well before ARCs are made available? I’m going to split the difference of what I would give this story without the continuity issues and what I would give it based on the shoddy timeline.

I’m not going to lie; I will read the next book in this series if it’s continued. I’ll even recommend this story. As much as the editing and continuity issues drive me batty, the author really has a great premise with this town and these stories. I’m just hoping that next time I can give the book I higher rating.

3.5 stars

**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**

About Cheri

I'm the mom of two boys and wife to my high school sweetheart. Our oldest, Josh, is living at home while working and paying off student loans. Our youngest, Griffin recently left his active duty Army job and is now National Guard here at home. He moved back to Michigan with his wife Kirsten and our beautiful granddaughter Hazel. I work part time and try to fit as much reading into my life as possible.
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